Live All Over Again
Live review from Sweden in 1994, after the release of the Demon Flower album.
Author: Stefan Warnqvist.
Date: 21 April 1994.
Original URL: http://www.e.kth.se/~e92_stw/hunters94.html
LIVE ALL OVER AGAIN
When I saw Hunters & Collectors the first time, supporting Midnight Oil in a hockey arena in Stockholm in April 1990, I came away disappointed. H&C radiated unhappiness, weren’t very tight and seemed intimidated by the size of the venue. I’ve always thought they just had a bad day back then, and so expected this gig at the rock club Gino in Stockholm to be much better.
It was about an hour or so to go before the gig would start when I arrived at the venue, so I checked out the place and studied the H&C set list on the stage floor. I asked the doorman if there would be any H&C merchandise for sale. “I think so… but I think that it’ll be after the gig”, he replied. About 9.40 p.m. I put myself near the centre of the stage, about three metres away from the stage. Crap dance music was being played over the PA system.
DAVID McCOMB & THE RED PONIES
The support act was David McComb, former singer/songwriter/leader of Triffids, and his band The Red Ponies. The Triffids used to be quite popular in Sweden (in fact, their live album was recorded here and is titled “Stockholm”), and I think a lot of people were curious to hear songs from McComb’s debut solo CD “Love Of Will”, which like H&C’s “Demon Flower” had been released just the week before here. Personally, I had never really heard Triffids’ music, so I didn’t know what to expect.
McComb and his band entered the stage. The crap dance music was still being played over the PA system, but McComb gave Gino’s DJ the evil eye and (finally!) the music was turned off. McComb’s band featured a guitarist, a keyboardist, a bassist, a drummer, a crazy violinist and McComb himself on vocals and rhytm guitar. The guitarist (who also played pedal steel guitar) looked like a Biochemistry professor but was very talented. (I have later found out that his name is Evil Graham Lee, and that he too used to be a member of the Triffids) The award for the hippest stage presence, though, went to the “crazy” violinist. If you can imagine a spasmic person high on various drugs playing frenzied violin solos then you’ve got a good idea of what he was like…
Anyway. McComb & The Red Ponies played 12 tracks, mainly from his new album but also a few Triffids tracks and also covers by Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen/Phil Spector (“Memories”). I was very impressed with the songs and McComb’s voice, which is brilliant, and decided to check out his solo album. Very good indeed. McComb and his band finished their set at 10.45 p.m. Blinds were rolled down and roadies began working on the stage (behind the blinds).
01. Unmade Love
02. Clear Out My Mind
03. Setting You Free
04. In The Pines
05. Image Of Love (?)
06. I Can’t Stay No More
08. Raining Pleasure
10. I Want To Conquer You
11. Sign Your Name (?)
12. How Can I Help But Love You
HUNTERS & COLLECTORS
At 11.20 p.m. the blinds went up and the audience began cheering enthusiastically. Hunters & Collectors, minus Jack Howard and Michael Waters, entered the stage and started with “Betrayer” off the new album. It sounded really great, full of energy and power. Mark didn’t play any guitar on this one, but gave it all he had, vocally. A roadie gave Mark his guitar and Jack and Michael got on stage before the next track. Barry Palmer and John Archer were on my left, Mark Seymour in front of me, Doug Falconer behind him, and Jeremy Smith, Jack Howard and Michael Waters were on my right. Mark looked extremely much like his bro’, the only difference that I noticed was that Mark has shorter hair and plays guitar instead of bass… 🙂
Anyway, H&C continued their set with superb versions of two “Demon Flower” tracks, “Easy” and “The One And Only You”, both of which got a great response from the audience, but throughout the gig it became obvious to me that most of the audience hadn’t heard “Demon Flower” yet. When H&C began playing “Blind Eye” the audience became even more enthusiastic and sang along for every word of the song. It was an excellent rendition. The next track was “Head Above Water”. This is probably my least favourite H&C track, and I think they made it even worse by really letting loose towards the end – they did a loud noisy ‘rocking out’ type of thing. To be honest, I would have been happier if they had played a track like “Grindstone” instead.
After this, the concert became really great again, with two “Human Frailty” tracks, “Stuck On You” and “Dog” being real crowd-pleasers. Especially for the guy standing next to me. Throughout the concert, he cheered and sang along for all “Human Frailty”, but looked really bored and annoyed, almost as if he was personally offended, when they played tracks from any other album. “Dog” was followed by ‘a track recorded in Cologne a long time ago’. It was “42 Wheels” from the “The Jaws Of Life” album. It sounded very good and Barry did some brilliant guitar playing in this one. “Back In The Hole”, one of my absolute favourites on the new album, was next and it was really GREAT live, with superb singing by Mark. Definitely one of the concert’s highlights! H&C continued with “Say Goodbye”, another crowd-pleaser with lots of audience singalong (and the guy standing next to me became very enthused too as it was a “Human Frailty” track), and then the quiet “Mr. Bigmouth” from the new album, with more great singing by Mark.
‘I`ve been doing a lot of press the last few days’, Mark said.’The two most asked questions are `When will you make it in America?` and `Are you a political band?`…we are a political band.’ I thought they would play “Courtship Of America” after this but instead we got a fantastic rendition of “Hear No Evil”, one of my all-time favourite H&C tracks. It was another concert highlight. The next song was another goodie, “Drop In The Ocean”. Mark forgot the words to this song – after he had sung the first line he was silent for a couple of bars, and you could see he really tried to remember the words. He cracked up laughing and looked a little embarrassed, and then sang the last two lines of the first verse. After the guitar solo, when he was to sing the last verse, he sang the second verse again instead. A very powerful “When The River Runs Dry” followed. The audience was crazy about this one, and justifiably so. It was a killer version which blew away both the great album version and the shoddy rendition of this song at the concert in ’90. You could really tell that H&C were on top form this evening.
The song which got the greatest response, though, was the next one, “Holy Grail”, which got the audience cheering very enthusiastically, singing along and jumping up and down etc… that is, except for the guy standing next to me, who realised that this track wasn’t from “Human Frailty”, so in order to show his disapproval he stood with his arms crossed, looking extremely bored and annoyed. After this track, H&C left the stage.
Naturally, the crowd went very vocal, wanting to hear more. A roadie looking a bit lost walked across the stage as if he was looking for something. H&C came back to the stage under enormous cheering from the crowd, and the band looked very happy with the audience’s uninhibited love for them. ‘I thought Sweden was the hate nation’, Mark said jokingly. Upon seeing that nobody understood what he meant, he went on, ‘The beer costs so much… but it’s so close to the Arctic circle’. The first encore was “True Tears Of Joy” which was followed by “Everything’s On Fire” (one of only 4 tracks which were also played at the concert in 1990). Some guys in the front row called out ‘We want `Judas Sheep`!’ a few times. The band heard them, and John played a few bass chords from the song in question, but that was it. Instead, H&C played a great version of “Where Do You Go?”. After that, Mark said ‘Goodnight Sweden – we`ll see you in Hultsfred.” Hultsfred is a small village in the south of Sweden with a few thousand citizens, and this place is mainly known for its annual rock festival in August. H&C were to do a gig in Hultsfred two days later (23rd April).
It wasn’t over yet. The crowd was still bursting of enthusiasm for H&C and wanted more. The same roadie as before walked across the stage, again looking rather lost, and then H&C returned to the stage, much to the crowd’s delight. The group looked genuinely surprised and happy about being so popular, and it was obvious they had only calculated with doing one set of encores. ‘This is a Country and Western song about Bette Davis`s eyes’, Mark said, and I couldn’t even imagine which song this could be. It turned out to be “You Stole My Thunder” which sounded very good live. After a crowd-pleasing and powerful version of “Do You See What I See?” the band left the stage again.
We the fans still wanted to hear more, and following the now traditional walk across the stage by the lost-looking roadie, H&C came back for a 3rd set of encores. John and Barry came from the left side of the stage, and the others came from the right side. Mark approached John and Barry and said a few words, presumably to tell them what the band would play, as this encore seemed decidedly spontaneous. Mark then signalled to sound engineer Robert Miles, H&C’s 8th member, who was sitting above John and Barry at the left side of the stage, and the band began playing “The Slab”. This was another favourite with the audience. When Mark sang ‘I know it`s true, but I just can`t say it’, the audience spontaneously provided the ‘Say it! Say it! Say it!’ from the record version. After this track, H&C left the stage for the final time, a fact which you could deduct from the non-appearance of the lost-looking roadie… 🙂 ‘Good night! God bless you all!’ Mark said as he walked off the stage. It was obvious that the band were very happy with the gig and the audience’s enthusiasm. It was now 1.05 a.m. Hunters had been on stage for about 100 minutes and had performed no less than 21 tracks.
I think it was an absolutely fantastic gig and definitely one of the best concerts I have ever been to. H&C really seemed to enjoy themselves and each band member was on top form. The track selection was very good indeed with a good balance between new and old tracks. Most songs were better than their album versions, and the “Demon Flower” tracks fitted in very well with the older tracks. I think many in the audience went out and bought “Demon Flower” in the days after the gig (probably not the guy standing next to me during the gig, though – he probably went home and sulked about the fact that the new album isn’t a re-issue of “Human Frailty”). Special thanks to Robert Miles and Gino’s volume restrictions for keeping the volume at the gig at an excellent level. For the first gig in a long time (by any band) I could come home without ringing in my ears. For me, whose biggest fear is being diagnosed with tinnitus before I turn 30, that was really appreciated.
To sum things up, this was a great gig in all respects and if you get the opportunity to see H&C live – do so!!!
03. The One And Only You
04. Blind Eye
05. Head Above Water
06. Stuck On You
08. 42 Wheels
09. Back In The Hole
10. Say Goodbye
11. Mr. Bigmouth
12. Hear No Evil
13. Drop In The Ocean
14. When The River Runs Dry
15. Holy Grail
16. True Tears Of Joy
17. Everything’s On Fire
18. Where Do You Go?
19. You Stole My Thunder
20. Do You See What I See?
21. The Slab